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The passing of a great diplomat


One of the last times I saw President Martti Ahtisaari (1937-2023), 2008 Nobel Peace Prize recipient, was in 2017 at the celebration of South Africa’s National Day in Helsinki when he gave a short talk honoring his friend, Nelson Mandela. My wife and I chatted with him for quite a while as he recounted stories after having just returned from attending a birthday party for Kofi Annan. Those two names alone, among his many acquaintances around the world, indicate the circle in which his wisdom about diplomacy was shared. I would add that his view about Finland’s future security needs was clear already in 2010 when he said he was bothered by the fact that Finland was unwilling to take more steps to join NATO, which he thought was central to peacekeeping. May he rest in peace.

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